Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: Top Hands
Yesterday we worked cows. Our modified live vaccination protocol requires cows be given their annual shots when they’re not pregnant. So, we gather the whole works a few days prior to branding, and vaccinate everyone.
My niece showed up her own horse, helped gather, and helped in the corral. My son, who is four, watched all of this with great interest. He has been ponied on a horse several times, but wasn’t interested or confident in riding all by himself. Until yesterday.
It didn’t take long watching his older cousin to decide he would like to ride Garfield, aka “his horse.” Off he went in his dad’s saddle, as Garfield is, or was, his dad’s go-to horse. Until yesterday.
He started in the corral, plodding around and helping push the little bunches of cows to the next pen. Before long, he had that figured out. From there, he and his cousin found someone to open the gate for them, and they were off. Hours passed with them riding around the yard. There were intense, slow trot races that both claimed victory of. By late afternoon, the slow trotting had increased to decent trotting, and he had it down.
We ended the day by trailing back out the lane, and sitting around waiting for everyone to pair up. More trotting, more standing, more making his horse stop and not letting him go back to the barn.
I thought my heart might burst. What I just described could just as easily have been a picture of my own childhood. We grew up working cattle horseback, and there were four kids between my brother and I, and our cousins.
There is great peace and comfort in seeing my children enjoy something so similar to what I also enjoyed as a child. Something familiar and good. It did my heart good to see two kids horseback, jogging around the yard. There are few more fun or pure ways to pass the time when your young.
No doubt there will be learning curves ahead as my son learns the ropes of riding a horse that can still get out and go, cut a cow when he needs to, and test your patience leaning toward the house. Which is exactly how I feel it should be. A good hand needs a good horse, not a knucklehead or a lazy bum. He’ll fall off enough without the horse helping him along.
No doubt in the near future we will be hollering at him to quit running that horse around the yard, stay off the grass or else, and that if he is so fired up to do something horseback we can find something productive for him. In fact, I seem to have a complete lecture memorized in the back of my brain, for some reason. And, should I forget a sentence, I suspect my brother or my cousins could readily fill it in for me.
Here’s to spring time, and all those young cattlemen out there becoming top hands with their dad’s best horse.
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